Derrick Pereira's side continue their sublime form as they brushed aside the Prayag United challenge...
In a game where the hosts could have scored atleast half a dozen goals, a brace by the otherwise profligate James Moga, with an Othallo Tabia header sandwiched in-between. C.K Vineeth’s goal early in the second half had given the away side some hope, but Moga’s second goal snuffed out any scope of a come-back
Pune FC, coming into the tie after registering a 5-1 win against Dempo in Goa, named an unchanged line-up from that tie.
Prayag meanwhile were forced to make two alterations from the squad that ended East Bengal’s unbeaten run, as the suspended duo of Carlos Hernandez and Bello Rasaq were replaced by Anupam Sarkar and Mohamed Rafique.
The two sides pushed and probed each other in the beginning, as they tried to stamp their mark on the game. James Moga then hit the back of the net in the 8th minute, as after he evaded Anupam Sarkar’s challenge and took Gouramangi Moirangthem as well as Subrata Paul by surprise by attempting an early shot at the near post.
This led to a period of domination for the hosts, and they swiftly doubled their lead in the 17th minute, when Chika Wali found Othallo Tabia with a cross, and the right-back’s looping header left Subrata helpless in goal.
Ranti Martins then almost got to the end of a cross by Shylo Malswamtulunga, but Abhra Mondal intervened to clear the danger. Soon after, the Nigerian had another headed opportunity, but this time he failed to hit the target.
A free-kick floated in by Lalkamal Bhowmick then almost did halve the Red Lizards lead, as Abhra Mondal mis-read the flight of the ball. To his relief the ball went just over.
Pune FC were well in their stride by the half hour mark, completely dominating the opposition. Moga however spurned a glorious chance to score the third of the night, when he side-footed wide from an Izumi Arata cross, with the goal at his mercy.
Lalkamal Bhowmick returned the favour at the other end, as he got to the end of Deepak Mandal’s cross, but failed to direct it goalwards.
Much to the Pune faithful’s dismay, Moga missed an identical chance, to the one he had missed a mere few minutes ago, this time failing to turn home Karma Tsewang’s cross.
With Derrick Pereira’s side tearing the opposition apart down the wings, Khangthang Paite was the next to miss, failing to hit the target, after being set-up by Douhou Pierre.
The two sides headed into half-time with the hosts far more content of the two sides.
As expected, the Kolkatan outfit came out all guns blazing in the second half and promptly took the lead, when Abhra Mondal could only look on helplessly, as his brilliant save from a Ranti shot fell kindly in CK Vineeth’s path. The former Chirag United Kerala player made no mistake in slotting the ball into the net in the 51st minute.
Douhou then missed another gilt-edged chance, as he failed to hit the target with absolutely no pressure on him.
With the tide turning in Prayag’s favour, Derrick Pereira brought on Jeje Lalpekhlua, in order to give the foraging midfielders and wing-backs of Eelco Schattorie’s side something more to chew on defensively.
It was his strike-partner, James Moga though, who restored Pune FC’s two goal advantage, as he headed in Douhou Pierre’s cross in the 77th minute.
That knocked the wind out of the sails of the away side, who had looked sharper till then in the second half.
Sankar Oraon did test Abhra Mondal with a shot in the final minutes of the game, but it was easily dealt with by the former East Bengal keeper.
Karma Tsewang then had the chance to round off a good performance with a goal, but the winger blazed wide after being set-up by Jeje.
The win sees Pune FC move to third on the table with 23 points, while Prayag United stay in fifth with 17 points.
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